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CHAP. XII.

ADDRESS TO PERSONS OF DIFFERENT DESCRIPTIONS COMMENCING WITH UNCONVERTED SINNERS.

I HAVE now despatched the main business that I proposed in this discourse, for explication and confirmation, and have given many directions for personally accomplishing a regular covenant transaction, and also rules for the guidance of the Christian afterwards: I shall now proceed briefly to make application of all this to the consciences of men.

Now there are but two classes of people in the world, namely, unconverted sinners, and pious persons who have been renewed by divine grace.

To the former I shall briefly address myself by way of challenge, for the purpose of conviction, and then give counsel, or attempt persuasion.

First, Here is ground of severe challenge and accusation to poor careless sinners; and here I am very sensible the most important thing is yet behind, namely, to convince such persons that as yet they are out of covenant, and then make a trial if at last I may prevail with them solemnly to enter into it. I confess I am heartless in the undertaking, most will not take the pains to read thus far, others will throw it by as a needless formality. All sinners have stubborn wills, and the most learned, pious, zealous preachers, have found by sad experience that the most rational, convincing discourses preached or printed have been frustrated by an obstinate, unruly will, or wilfulness; Christ himself hath left this upon record, "ye will not come to me that ye might have life."* O what a wicked, perverse creature is man! * John v. 40.

That I may more effectually succeed in my purpose, I shall in a few particulars introduce the several descriptions of sinners who come under the lash of reproof as to this great concern.

1. Some absolutely and resolutely refuse to enter into any covenant engagement with God, and have no heart to take the terms thereof into consideration: of this sort were those that being invited to the marriage feast made light of it,* they would not take it into their thoughts, but went away; they did not think it worth consideration, but turned their backs on it, and put it quite out of their minds, just as Esau did with his birth-right, when he had got his belly full of bread and pottage of lentiles; the text saith, "he did eat and drink, and rose up and went his way," thus Esau despised his birth-right: just so do many now-a-days, let them but have the husks of worldly delights, they dismiss thoughts of God; most men have neither time nor inclination to consider whether heaven or hell be better, whether it be safer to have the eternal God to be their friend or enemy, whether the enjoyment of God or separation from him be more eligible, or fitter to be chosen no, this is the farthest from their thoughts. Poor sinner, canst thou find time for worldly business, and insignificant trifles? Thou art never weary of collecting toys, but canst thou get no time day or night to ruminate on God, Christ, pardon, or heaven? What hast thou thy rational soul for? Is eternity nothing in thy account? Shall gospel commodities be always accounted refuse-wares, so that thou wilt not so much as turn aside to ask of what use they are? what are they good for? or what rate are they at? Base ingratitude! when God in the ministry of the word presents gospel commodities with greatest advantage, and tells you,

Matt. xxii. 5.

+ Gen. xxv. 34.

you shall have them freely without money or price, will you still turn a deaf ear? will you still scorn the offer, and imagine that the thoughts of heaven will make you melancholy? must God complain of you as of his ancient people, "my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me?"* May not such a complaint from the eternal God break a heart of adamant? it is as if God should say, I have made them the fairest offers that ever were presented to a rational creature, I treated them as friends, gave them glorious deliverances, and precious ordinances, I answered their prayers, and bade them still farther open their mouths wide and I would fill them, yet nothing would prevail, they would none of me; I urged my suit with fresh arguments, and sighed out my cordial wish, Oh that my people would have hearkened unto me! I would have done so and so for them; did ever suitor woo more pathetically; yet all this will not do, Israel would none of me; well, let them go and seek a better husband. I have spoken and done fair in the judgment of impartial arbitrators; nay, I dare apeal to themselves, what could have been done more to them:‡ well, it seems I must not be heard, I have given them up to their heart's lust, and they walk in their own counsels, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end will be, there is no remedy, since they refuse the remedy which I have prescribed, "they have chosen their own ways-I also will choose their delusions;" let them now go their own length, and be snared in the work of their own hands.||

2. Some virtually and practically refuse to enter into covenant with God; this is done by choosing sin, and the world, or what is inconsistent with new coveIsa. v. 4.

Psal. lxxxi. 11.
| Deut. xxxii. 20.

† ver. 13-16.
Isa. lxvi. 3, 4. Prov. v. 22.

nant terms; the dominion of sin, and sincerity of heart cannot exist together. "Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law ?"* Love to sin gives sin a law over the soul, he that committeth sin is the servant of sin ;† the word imports heart-love, and a customary following of iniquity: some sinners even make a covenant with death, and are at agreement with hell, that is, in some sort, with the devil, for they make lies their refuge, and under falsehood do hide themselves. You will say, are any in covenant with the devil but witches? I answer, it may not be explicitly, but implicitly and by consequence there are. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft; || a stubborn sinner holds compact with the devil; they that are led captive by Satan at his pleasure, hold voluntary correspondence with the prince of darkness, they dance within his snare, and are not willing to recover or awake themselves, or be awaked, since they are in a pleasing dream of sensual pleasure;§ this is the case of poor sinners, and whose should they be but the devil's, that are not the Lord's? saith an ancient writer:¶¶ such as give not up themselves to God, do sell themselves to sin. Ah sinner, dost thou choose to be of the serpent's seed, rather than God's child? wilt thou be the dragon's soldier, rather than one of Michael's?** dost thou choose to be actuated by the infernal fiend, rather than animated by the sucred Spirit? Oh dreadful! that sinners like the centurion's servants, should be at the devil's beck! whenever your master puts you on, you will swear, lie, curse, steal, be drunk, covetous, unclean; if the devil say, flee

+ John viii. 34.

||

* Psal xciv. 20. Isa. xxviii. 15. ¶ Alterius esse non Tertul. de Idolat.

§ 2 Tim. ii. 26. possunt nisi diaboli qui Dei non sunt.— ** Rev. xii. 7.

] Sam. xv. 23.

from sound reproofs, escape from the checks of an accusing conscience, get out of the company of these precisians, you presently comply. Satan tempts, the sinner consents, and the bargain is made; the master requires work, the sinner expects wages, this is the compact; yielding ourselves denotes in one scripture both the engagement of a sinner, and a sincere Christian, Rom. vi. 13, 16, 19. [πapiotáveTE] present, or offer up your bodies, it is a word that implies a covenant engagement: if you do not formally, you do virtually and really contract with Satan, and you are true to him and his interest. Alas, that the devil should have so many devoted vassals, and Christ so few servants? Some even wear his badge, speak his language, and dance after him in invisible fetters: God Almighty break this bond of iniquity! Oh that any souls should sell themselves to work iniquity!* that you should barter away soul, body, time, and strength to Satan, for the gratification of an appetite or passion! Lord, put a stop to these frantic sinners. Let covetous misers consider how Ahab bought Naboth's vineyard of the devil, and sold himself for the price; a dear purchase! Let the voluptuous wretch, remember Esau's merchandize of his birthright, and pawning his soul for a mess of pottage. Let the vain-glorious fool, think of Haman, who sold God's people and himself, and all his gain was a halter, and his honour was a high gallows; shame is the promotion of fools.†

3. Some openly disown their interest in God, and pretend to no such title. It is possible some gracious souls dare not say God is theirs in covenant, who yet desire it above the world; I meddle not with those at present. But some from consciousness to themselves, that they have no ground or reason to claim any such

* 1 Kings xxi. 25.

+ Prov. iii. 35.

VOL. IV.

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